The Carson Zone
On Monday, Ben Carson began his tenure as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by meeting with his staff by way of a national intradepartmental televised broadcast and he made some incredible statements --- in the truest sense of the word “incredible.” Among the items he discussed, Dr. Carson, a neurosurgeon of great repute, said this about the human brain:
“It remembers everything you’ve ever seen. Everything you’ve ever heard. I could take the oldest person here, make a little hole right here on the side of the head,” Carson said, circling his left temple with a finger, “and put some depth electrodes into their hippocampus and stimulate. And they would be able to recite back to you, verbatim, a book they read 60 years ago. It’s all there. It doesn’t go away. You just have to learn how to recall it.”
Many people, neurosurgeons and laypeople alike, found this a rather astounding proposition. Because of all the news swirling around the Obamacare “repeal and replace” hubbub, as well as the continuing Trump/Russia drama, there was a really interesting follow up story about Dr. Carson's theory that didn’t get any coverage later in the week.
To prove his point about the human brain, Dr. Carson convinced his old colleague, Henry Brem, the Harvey Cushing Professor of Neurosurgery at The Johns Hopkins University and Director of the Department of Neurosurgery, as well as Neurosurgeon-in-Chief, to perform the hippocampus/electrode procedure on the Secretary of HUD. While there was no video of the operation, The Blast was able to obtain an exclusive audio recording of what transpired and it’s really quite remarkable.
After Dr. Carson was anesthetized and Dr. Brem had placed the “depth electrodes into (his) hippocampus,” the Secretary began a stream-of-consciousness journey back through his entire life, detailing complete medical texts, reciting verse from a poetry class at Yale, and even narrating his now famous knife-pulling scene on a middle school friend. Most stunning, though, was an almost half-hour of channeling, during which Dr. Carson seemed to be relating oral history he had heard as a boy. What made the story so fascinating was that he seemed to assume the personality of the storyteller, a griot from the Mandi tribe of the Songhai Empire in West Africa. (A griot, by definition, “is a member of a class of traveling poets, musicians, and storytellers who maintain a tradition of oral history in parts of West Africa” – Wikipedia) Here is what he related (while anesthetized & electrified):
“A number of us had been captured by a band of Mandinka warriors, our sworn enemies. As captives, we were then sold to the white infidels who had established trading posts along the coastline of the Great Water. Our hands and legs were shackled in strong metal and we were forced to board a huge boat. Once on board they put us below the top deck into a cramped space, with each of us shackled to those on either side. There was no room to stand and no sunlight and, as the ship began moving, swaying to and fro, many of my fellow captives became ill, vomiting profusely everywhere. We had no toilet facilities, either, and within one day the hideous stench was unbearable. Yet we continued in darkness, losing track of time, not knowing if it were day or night. Some of my compatriots died right there, in their shackles, and were not discovered until that day (maybe we were two or three days into our journey --- I don’t know) we were led above, to squint in the bright sunlight as they flushed and “cleaned” out our tiny crawl space. On deck we could only see the Great Water, stretching out in every direction. We were doused with buckets of water and the dead were wrapped in sheets and thrown into the Great Water. Occasionally, a Mandi who was momentarily unshackled would hurl him/herself over the side of the boat, into the Great Water, never to be seen again. It was difficult keeping one’s balance, between the swaying of the boat and not having used our legs --- we were quite unsteady. Not that it mattered. We were swept back below as poor wretches from the “deck” below ours were brought out for their “cleaning.” And it went on like that for who-knows-how –long. We were fed some kind of watery gruel and given ladles of water --- but many of us lost weight and became ill on the journey. Sobbing, wailing, and crying was constant throughout the trip.
Then we reached land and were marched off to a stone building where we were washed and cleaned and finally received some substantial food. They put scratchy burlap shirts and pants on the men and similarly coarse dresses on the women. After several days of "fattening up," we were led out, still in shackles, to a room where white men speaking a language we couldn’t understand yelled and shouted at us. Some walked up and opened our mouths to inspect our teeth, while others poked our ribs and squeezed our biceps. The women were grabbed and groped in all kinds of ways, too, and some were separated from their children right there! A white man I later learned was Joseph Davis, the owner of the Hurricane cotton plantation in Warren, Mississippi, led me off. His younger brother, Jefferson, often visited us, reviewing Mr. Joseph’s new "acquisitions."
That’s when it became crystal clear we were slaves. This was not a new concept to us, of course. It was common in the Songhai Empire to enslave your captives from other tribes. But Songhai slaves were allowed to keep their religion (often Islam, like me) and their language. These white people insisted we learn their language (called “English”) and that we adopt their "Christian" religion (which, as a Muslim, I had familiarity with --- those Old and New Testaments are the first two books of the Koran, after all, before Mohammed's prophesies).
We spent 12 hours a day, minimum, out in the fields, planting and then picking cotton. If you broke any rules you might be whipped. We were not allowed to learn to read and write their English. We were slaves, so we received no “compensation” for our work. I was eventually sold to a man in Biloxi named Benjamin Franklin Carson and, after many years, was told I was “free,” after the blue uniformed "Union" army took over the town.
It was only then, after learning to read and write English and studying the history of the United States, that I realized this was a land of dreams and opportunity. We were simply “other immigrants,” who had come here in the bottom of slave ships. Even though we had worked longer and even harder for less than those white folks who had come voluntarily, we, too, had a dream that one day our sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity in this land. Yes, indeed, we were the picture of the American Dream.”
At that point, Dr. Brem stopped recording and removed the electrodes from Dr. Carson’s hippocampus. Hours later, after listening to the audio recording, Dr. Carson marveled at how much the channeled griot had actually been the one who supplied him with his material for Monday’s speech, when he had said:
That's what America is about. A land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity in this land.
Not only had Dr. Brem helped prove Carson’s theory that the hippocampus and electrode treatment was correct, but he could now authenticate that his speech was historically accurate! It was a triumphant moment for the number one resident of The Carson Zone. Maybe the next treatment would reveal that those pyramids really were grain storage facilities.